We are now approaching the fourth race of the 2015 FIA/WEC season. This race, the Nürburgring 6-Hours being the final round to be held on European soil, will be held at the Nürburgring for the first time. Situated high in the beautiful Eiffel Mountains, in the physical and emotional shadow of the (in)famous Nordschleife, lies the Grüne Hölle.
From a personal perspective the Nürburgring, albeit the GP circuit, is a fitting way for Europe to bid farewell to WEC for this year as it moves to more modern circuits in distant lands. The Nürburgring, Spa Francorchamps and La Sarthe are probably the reasons we have a successful WEC series today, as it is the 1000kms and the 24-Hour races at these circuits where the roots of the modern race series can be found.
Multi-lane Autobahns deliver you efficiently into the Nürburgring complex which sits like a modern city in the middle of chocolate box Germany, offering a combination of concrete, steel and glass buildings sitting alongside traditional Bierkellers and Gasthäuser. If you have time to explore, the twisting and undulating roads stretch out into the countryside. There you will find very clean, tidy and pleasant villages, which rely to some degree on the neighbouring Nürburgring. The main dealer showroom, the independent automotive tuning and styling business, the headquarters of the DTM and other series, are all part of the motor sport metropolis. It is the large supermarkets, however, with aisles dedicated to French, Belgian and English labelled products that seem strangely out of place, but these are necessary to satisfy the needs of the tourists drawn to this automotive Mecca. It is clear when you see it, that the area is very reliant on motor sport.
I have been to the Nürburgring many times as a spectator, or to drive the Nordschleife, or to pass through simply because the place has such an allure. I have been there in the spring, summer and autumn the only thing that changes is the colour of the leaves and the temperature of the rain…it’s either snow or monsoon.
This year will be the first time trackside for me, so there will be no time to browse the shops on Ring Boulevard, visit the Museum or to go karting, this is a working trip. I have received the media pack giving all of the details needed, it’s now just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.
I think that the race will be unique and the circuit looks like it will be very demanding on the drivers and the cars. The Nürburgring GP Circuit is the shortest circuit on the European leg of the WEC. It is difficult to get the definitive number of corners for the circuits of Silverstone, Spa and Nürburgring. But simply looking at this circuit, the Nürburgring appears to be more complex and the impact of getting a corner wrong or being blocked by a slower car, is likely to have a big impact on subsequent laps. The cockpits are going to be very busy places with little or no time for the drivers to take a breather, and traffic is likely to be an issue with a crowded grid (34 cars). A wide performance differential (LMP1 to GTE AM) will play its part, and of course the weather will no doubt have a say in the outcome.
It is often said that you can’t win a race on the first lap, you can only lose it. There is much to play for…Audi will want to avenge the bloody nose they received from Porsche at Le Mans, Toyota will want to be back in the running after a lack lustre start to their world championship defence, and Porsche will want to continue to dominate not withstanding the EOT regulations, designed to level the playing field. I think there will be fireworks!
I can’t wait to see how it all plays out, and Virtual Motorpix will be there!
Written by: John Mountney